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Wiggins, Millar, Froome and Stannard to support Cavendish in Olympic road race

Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Chris Froome and Ian Stannard have been named as the riders who will support Mark Cavendish’s bid to win gold in the London 2012 Olympic road race on Saturday July 28.

David Millar will ride alongside Mark Cavendish in the men’s Olympic road race on Saturday July 28

Millar’s inclusion in the five-man squad comes after the British Olympic Association’s lifetime ban for convicted dopers was overturned earlier this year and the Scot is set to compete at his first Games since finishing 16th in the individual time trial at Sydney 2000.

Millar, however, will not ride the individual time trial on August 1, with Wiggins and Froome selected to go against the clock on the 44km course.

BMC Racing’s Steve Cummings and Team Sky duo Ben Swift and Jeremy Hunt are the riders named last month in British Cycling’s provisional squad who miss out on a place in the road race team. Swift was tipped for a spot in the squad, with the sprinter an asset both as a leadout man and a Plan B should Cavendish’s challenge fail.

Team Sky boss and British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford said: “The final selection for the men’s road race was a tough choice as we had a really strong squad of riders to pick from. We have selected the five riders who we believe are on the best form and will give us the fastest team for the race.

“All the riders selected have a gruelling few weeks coming up, with Ian [Stannard] due to ride in the Tour of Poland and the rest of the lads riding in the Tour de France, so we’ll be keeping an eye on injury and form but for now, I am confident that we have picked the best team for the race.”

Cavendish will start the race as favourite and has significantly altered his training in 2012 in order to stay at the front of the race over nine laps of the Box Hill circuit, losing 4kg in weight but, by his own admission, sacrificing an element of top-end speed.

But the Manx Missile proved he is still the fastest man on two wheels with victory on stage two of the Tour de France on Monday, despite riding solo in the finale, with Team Sky’s effort focussed on helping Wiggins win the yellow jersey.

Cavendish has also emphasised his desire to help Wiggins become the first British winner of the Tour and is willing to sacrifice his green jersey ambitions as a result – but the world champion will expect Wiggins to return the favour when the Olympic road race arrives on the first day of competition at London 2012.

Wiggins said: “I’m happy to be a part of it, we’ve got a good chance to win the road race with Cav and it’s a London Olympics which makes it very special. I’ve also got a chance to go for my fourth gold medal in the time trial.”

Wiggins has been in imperious form against the clock this season, winning individual time trials in the Volta a Catalunya, Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine, before finishing second behind Fabian Cancellara in the Tour’s opening prologue.

The selection of Froome over Millar for the second time trial spot will raise eyebrows in some quarters. Millar is a time trial specialist and won silver at the 2010 World Championships in Melbourne, but the 35-year-old only returned to racing last month after breaking his collarbone in the spring, and was almost forced to withdraw from the Tour de France after suffering from illness in the build-up to the race.

Froome, on the other hand, has proved his time trial credentials, finishing second behind Tony Martin in the Vuelta TT last year to move into the leader’s jersey before finishing second overall, while the Kenya-born rider registered an 11th place finish in the Tour’s prologue.

“It’s a great feeling to be selected, the Olympics is one event I’ve always wanted to go to,” said Froome, who, along with Stannard, will be competing at his first Olympic Games.

“The course looks challenging – the laps around Box Hill are going to be hard and will make the race interesting. We’ll be there with Cav to support him and it should be a really good course for us. It’s huge to compete at home – the British support out here at the Tour de France has been amazing and I can only imagine it’ll be even bigger at home. If it’s anything like the test event, it will be a big spectacle for the public to come and watch.”

Stannard, who is in fine form having won the National Road Race Championships, added: “It feels great to have been selected for my first Olympic Games, and it’s even better to know that we’ve got the support of the home crowd behind us. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the race and giving Mark as much support as possible on the day.”

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